A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a trusted person, the legal authority to act for another, and to make legally binding decisions on their behalf.
In case of accident, sudden illness, absence, or when unable to cope, you may need someone to manage your affairs.
A Power of Attorney is particularly useful:
- To relieve the demands of decision-making;
- When travelling or to allow someone to handle your affairs;
- To avoid burdening family or friends with your responsibilities; or
- If unable to manage your financial affairs.
The ACT Powers of Attorney Act 2006 provides for a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney.
A General Power of Attorney is used for a specific purpose or with general powers and is useful if you are away or for one-off or commercial transactions.
It ceases to have effect if you lose capacity or die.
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An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) may empower your attorney to make financial, property, health and personal decisions and continues to be valid even if you lose legal capacity due to disability or illness.
An EPA may commence on a specific date, when required or upon loss of legal capacity and allows your attorney to manage your affairs even if you are unable to instruct them.
An EPA providing power to act of your behalf for health and personal decisions may only come into effect on loss of capacity.
If you do not have an EPA, and lose legal capacity, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) may appoint either a manager (to make financial and property decisions) or a guardian (for health and personal decisions).
This can be an individual or organisation, for example, the Public Trustee and Guardian.
Managers and guardians act in a similar way to an attorney, however they are required to report at regular intervals to ACAT.
Irrespective of the state or territory in which you make your EPA, it is recognised by all states and territories.
Your EPA only needs to be registered when dealing with a person’s (real) property.
Your attorney may be your spouse or partner, your child (if they are 18 years or over), a friend, or the Public Trustee and Guardian or other professional.
An attorney should be willing and have integrity, competence, availability, time and impartiality.
A booklet entitled The Power to Choose, including the EPA form, is available from the Public Trustee’s website at www.ptg.act.gov.au.
The Public Trustee and Guardian, located at 221 London Circuit Canberra City, offers a confidential service for those wishing to appoint the Public Trustee and Guardian as executor/attorney.
PTG drafts Wills at no cost if you are 60 years and over.
Please call (02) 6207 9800 to make an appointment.